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The other day I was over at my friends' place. My friends are newlyweds. During their recent courtship, part of the get-to-know-you process involved the wife's, whose name is Allison, making a list of her favorite books for her husband, Steve, to read. On Allison's list I found some of my favorite authors, including Jack London and D.H. Lawrence, as well as lesser-known greats like Lermontov. 

I thought this bit of sharing a wonderful idea. How better to acquaint oneself with a beloved's preferences, opinions, dreams and desires than by getting to know her favorite authors, by perusing those literary masterpieces, or dime store paperbacks, which have delighted her in her spare time and attended her through life's joys and bolstered her through the hardships? The funny thing is, my friend Steve doesn't like to read. I wonder how that bodes for their betrothal. Like praying and playing, the family that turns pages together stays together, as they say. Hopefully for the Kilmanns there are exceptions to this rule.

Anyway, since I can't start a book club with my wife because I don't have a wife, nor any friends who like to read, I'll make my list for you. Unlike Allison, most of my favorite reads are non-fiction. What does this say about me? And most are available for free and digestible in a sitting. What does that say about me? That I am a realist? That I am parsimonious and distractible? What do these adjectives say about me? That I like to impress with big words? Glad I'm typing and not writing this, or else I'd be analyzing my cursive. At the rate I'm going I'll never get to my ten best books that are quick to read and mostly free list.

I will also mention that my making a list derived additional inspiration from an article I read in Time magazine about the 30 books you should read before turning 30. I, who am 44 and reasonably well-read, have yet to read more than one of the tomes on the list, and I didn't enjoy Jane Eyre in the slightest. What 13-year-old boy does? You won't find any Bronte in the books listed below. So here goes.

This book is by 20th century British philoospher Bertrand Russell. If you want to improve your mood without thinking about it too much or spending a lot of money, this is for you. It's three dollars.

An antidote to excessive enthusiasm that will make you question your existence and introduce you to the quintessential Devil's advocate, this book is free and quick to read.

If all the to-do about devils doesn't suit you, and you consider yourself more spiritual than religious or would like to be, try this book by Trine, which is free.

Meditation is the buzz-word of today. Here's a short dissertation on the subject for under a dollar and by a recognized authority and rival of Hitler.

Vedanta is the system of thought based on the ancient Hindu scriptures and founded by the mystic Adi Shankara some 1200 years ago. Vedanta recognizes the beauty inherent in all religions and upholds the unity of divinity and our identity with all that is. This book is a practical primer on the subject I found by chance.

If you think you act in a vacuum, that you freely choose what you do and don't do and are not compelled by your genes and upbringing, then this book, which once was free and now is under 5 dollars, will prove a real eye-opener. And proves by its price that it is not a free country.

Lost a loved one and need convincing that the soul survives the body and that your friend or relative is someplace safe and happy? Then read this free book by the author of Sherlock Holmes and lay your fears to rest.

Is your life too complex? Are you anxious and distracted? Do you need to pare down your possessions? This author was the unrecognized founder of the hippie movement. See how free and easy it is to live simply.

This is the Hindu Bible - and older, shorter and less expensive than the Jesus version.

Do you want more out of your domestic partnership? Is commitment weighing you down? Read this and be inspired.

Speaking of inspiration, enjoy these pithy biographies of some of history's most shining figures from an author who himself was a paragon of excellence. An honorable mention.

If fiction is more your thing, try Louis Lambert by Balzac to witness the momentous changes wrought in the individual's life by Self-realization, and The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P.D. Ouspensky if you want to really be bedazzled. As you'll see, you can't change your fate - if your fate is to read these.


  1. Awesome. Can't wait to check these out. Thanks.


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